Back to School (1986)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Manners, Farce, Odd Couple Film  |   Release Date - Jun 13, 1986 (USA)  |   Run Time - 96 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Rodney Dangerfield has made a nominal career of playing the disrespected everyman, but the one he creates for Back to School is probably both the wealthiest and most loveable. One of his fonder star vehicles, Back to School twists the standard college comedy format by inserting a wild-eyed adult into the equation, then making him adept both at fitting in with his wisecracking classmates and cutting corners like a seasoned pro. (When he's required to write a paper on Kurt Vonnegut, he hires the author himself to do it; on receiving a poor grade, in a moment that's pure Dangerfield, he tells Vonnegut he doesn't know squat about himself.) Sharing the writing credit with seven others, including Animal House veteran Harold Ramis, Dangerfield finally writes himself a balance between his typical zippy putdowns and the warmth audiences expect from their comic heroes. Hardcore fans might think he's selling out in favor of sentiment, but most others will find it charmingly unselfconscious. He even convinces that a refined professor like the one played by Sally Kellerman just might go for him. Keith Gordon is the perfect straight man for Dangerfield, rolling his eyes like a put-upon son, but also generating his half of a believable father-son chemistry. And for suspension of disbelief at its zaniest, just check out Dangerfield's inimitable dive during the climactic swim meet.